Last week I posted about an announcement that the Department of Homeland Security made about creating an online ESL portal, and asked if anyone knew anything about it.  I posted a similar question on various listservs, and received a response from John Fleischman from the Sacramento County Office of Education.  It sounds promising, especially with SCOE involved.  It’s also a little ironical that I put out the question nationally and the answer was just down the street in my own community.  I’m certainly aware of what’s going on!

Here is what John wrote:

The announcement by the Administration focused on improving border security and immigration.  The last item on the list, number 26, indicates, “The Department of Education will launch a free, Web-based portal to help immigrants learn English, and expand this model over time.
The development of this portal is an outgrowth of a currently funded Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) project entitled Strengthening Programs Through Technology (AKA AdultEd Online), a partnership between my office and the University of Michigan.  The contract was awarded to develop a number of technology resources for adult education including exploring the feasibility of building a Web portal where adult learners could find instructional materials on subjects ranging from learning English to preparing for the G.E.D.  To better understand the design features a portal should have, a prototype is being built first.  The prototype will contain learning materials in three areas: a beginning-level English course, a mid-level English course, and activities for improving reading, writing and life skills.  
The prototype should be complete on January 31, 2008.  It will then undergo several months of field testing with learners.  By September a refined portal should be ready to launch for use by adults anywhere in the United States.  The portal begins with a focus on learning English, but the portal is expected to expand over time, with the addition of materials in areas such as civics and basic skills.
Over the next couple of months we’ll be sharing more information about the portal.  We also look forward to getting stakeholder input as we conduct field testing during Winter-Spring of 2008.